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Need a joint effort by nations to develop COVID-19 vaccine quickly: Richard Horton

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Reeling under severe health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, nations worldwide are busy finding a way out to combat the deadly virus which has already claimed 175,000 lives globally. Efforts are being made across the world to find a vaccine against COVID-19 but there a serious question mark over the way they are going about it.

Speaking to an Indian news channel, top medical journal Lancet’s editor-in-chief Dr Richard Horton said that efforts to make a vaccine for COVID-19 are “disjointed” and instead there should be a joint effort “under the leadership of World Health Organisation (WHO)”.

“The world’s efforts at finding a vaccine are extremely disjointed. Each doing their own research. There has to be some sort of coordination in the efforts under the leadership of WHO (World Health Organisation) where all countries coordinate. Right now the creative flourishing of so many vaccine candidates is going on in an uncoordinated way. It will be a very confusing situation,” Dr Horton told the channel.

Dr Horton said a joint effort would surely help the world to advance the date of finding a vaccine by the end of this year.

Speaking about a number of interesting ideas that people are working on across the world, he said: “There are a number of hypotheses. One is that in countries like India where there is a BCG vaccine, COVID-19 cases are less”.

There is another, which is now being tested in France, which says that those who smoke might have a reduced risk of COVID-19. So, there will be medical trials using nicotine patches to see if nicotine could be used to prevent COVID-19. Right now we have a whole bunch of ideas that are very interesting, but to be completely honest, there is no solid evidence for either,” Dr Horton added.

He was quick to dismiss the potency of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug manufactured a lot by India, against the novel coronavirus whereas the whole world seems to be asking for it as a possible solution to the viral infection.

“There is not one piece of evidence that hydroxychloroquine had any beneficial effect,” Dr Horton said.

He sounded less enthusiastic about efforts made in the areas of rapid testing kits, the one India has been developing.

“I would be a little less optimistic since these tests require sophisticated laboratories that are not available in all countries,” Dr Horton said.

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